M&S to offer ‘buy now, pay later’ online

Marks & Spencer is set to introduce 'buy now, pay later' to its online shopping as part of digital transformation plans to cope with a challenging climate for its clothing division.

In an investor meeting on Tuesday, chief executive Steve Rowe set out a plan for “far-reaching change” as the High Street stalwart looks to turn around its fortunes with an upgraded range and online shopping options after half a decade of falling sales.

Rowe told investors that the introduction of instalment credit online was among a range of "tactical actions" to be deployed to drive trade alongside more effective leveraging of M&S’ multi-channel estate.

While Rowe did not say whether a contract had yet been signed with a specific payment provider, the move is intended to compete with the likes of Next, which already has a credit system, and e-commerce rivals such as ASOS, which have agreements with digital payments players led by the likes of Klarna.

It comes after M&S in the UK announced it had signed a partnership with Ingenico Group for omnichannel payments.

The M&S investor day also featured a presentation from Jeremy Pee, chief digital and data officer, who outlined the "huge opportunity" represented by the use of digital and data for future growth.

He said that until now the business had fallen behind and was not yet “digitally joined up”, adding that high dependence on manual processes and a focus on channels rather than customer journeys had contributed to the issue of data delivering insufficient value.

The presentation set out a strategy for the rebuilding of the M&S data estate, identifying four key data sources for the business, including the Sparks rewards scheme, M&S.com, M&S Bank and the new online food delivery partnership with Ocado.

Pee said that personalisation would be to key competitive advantage for retailers, as customers look for offers and items suited to their preferences.

For M&S, meeting this personalisation challenge would require rich data sets, a shift to predictive analytics and automated execution, Pee told investors.

He concluded that this shift to a data-focussed strategy would require the organisation to connect data by making it available in the cloud.

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